THE BLOG
02/11/2013 08:15 am ET Updated Apr 13, 2013

Bobby Jindal Shills For Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's Education Reforms; Warriors Vs. Worriors: Ed Today

McDonnell Gets By With A Little Help From His Friend As Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) continued his push for education reforms in Virginia, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) stopped by for a little nudge in the right direction, reports the Associated Press. "Jindal was in Richmond for U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's fundraiser, so Gov. Bob McDonnell took the opportunity to have his fellow Republican talk about grading schools on an A-to-F scale and allowing the state to take over chronically failing schools," AP writes.

Are You A Warrior Or A Worrior? This week's New York Times Magazine features a fascinating look at children's tendencies when it comes to stress and competition, and its conclusions have profound consequences for education -- particularly standardized testing. I can't do the story justice in this quick paragraph, so I recommend you read it. But in brief, there's a genetic lever ("COMT") that regulates how slowly or quickly the body releases the enzyme that absorbs dopamine. The presence or absence of this gene affects how kids manage stress -- but the best fix for the set of kids that crumbles is to inoculate them with more (beneficial) stress. And here's how it affects testing:

Taking a standardized test is a competition in which the only thing anyone cares about is the final score. No one says, "I didn't do that well, but it was still worth doing, because I learned so much math from all the months of studying." Nobody has ever come out of an SAT test saying, "Well, I won't get into the college I wanted, but that's O.K. because I made a lot of new friends at the Kaplan center." Standardized tests lack the side benefits of competing that normally buffer children's anxiety. When you sign your child up for the swim team, he may really want to finish first, but there are many other reasons to be in the pool, even if he finishes last.

Texas School Funding? This week, the Lone Star State's legislature turns to education funding, fresh off the heels of a legal decision confirming that the state needs to spend more money more equitably on schools, reports the Associated Press. The Democrats plan to make school funding a major focus, and, according to the AP, "hope to set Republicans up for some potentially embarrassing votes that can be used against them in 2014." This should be interesting to watch!

Changes For Law Schools? Due to many factors, including a sudden decrease of law school applications, the legal profession is reconsidering the way it recruits and trains up-and-coming lawyers in and outside of law school, the Times reports. "There is almost universal agreement that the current system is broken," Thomas W. Lyons III, a Rhode Island lawyer and a member of the American Bar Association's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, told the Times.

Who Runs Our Schools? Education management can be byzantine and tough to understand. The Wall Street Journal's Lisa Fleisher has a great explainer that lays out how everything works in New York. While the mayor is technically in charge, she writes, so is Newton's law -- and mayoral control's "equal and opposite" counterweight is the teachers' union. Meanwhile, that system still answers to the state Board of Regents and parents. What about the federal government?

**Extra Credit** Battling College Costs, One Paycheck At A Time

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